822d BDS exercise Scorpion Fury defends rotary wing staging point

  • Published
  • By Capt. Christian Little
  • 93 AGOW

The U.S. Air Force’s 822d Base Defense Squadron exercised their ability to provide area defense in support of austere air operations, May 6 to 9, 2024, during exercise Scorpion Fury at Camp Blanding, Fla.

Throughout four days of continuous day and night operations, around 50 members from the 822d BDS defended a simulated rotary wing forward aerial refueling point (FARP), integrating small arms and heavy weapons, entrenched battle positions, military working dogs, dismounted patrols and screening operations.

“We recognize that aircraft are probably at their most vulnerable when they’re on the ground or during take-off,” said Royal Air Force Capt. Peter Clements, assigned as the 822d BDS Operations Officer. “Making sure we have ground units in place, dedicated to protecting those aircraft when they’re most vulnerable gives us the ability to project power further into the Joint Operating Area.”

 The exercising flights established defensive perimeters and pushed offensive patrols out into the main battle area to actively detect and neutralize threats to simulated rotary wing operations. The purpose of the FARP site is to provide rotary wing assets the capability to refuel and potentially rearm closer to the forward battlespace to project combat airpower further, faster.

“Air Base Defense is a critical mission to the Joint Force Commander, as advancements in enemy capabilities and technologies have extended the impact of potential threats beyond traditional ground and artillery threats. Ensuring the 822 BDS can deploy platforms and capabilities unique to this mission set and evolving challenges are essential,” Clements said.

The unit is transitioning from decades of providing support for Global War on Terror mission-sets to potential future operations against well-equipped, trained conventional forces.

“We’re focusing more on conventional warfare,” Clements further explained. “We’re going back to the foundational basics to understand how we can do simpler, but more deliberate tasks to ensure we’re ready for all kinds of fights, no matter what comes next.”

The unit aims to replicate austere combat conditions as closely as possible to test and prepare their tactics and Airmen for the future fight.

“These exercises are arduous and difficult, because we’re trying to replicate potential future operations around the world,” Clements said. “We acknowledge that our operations are evolving, and we’re training for worst-case scenarios.” 

 To better prepare for future operations, 822d BDS exercise coordinators continuously evaluate performance, even under the harshest conditions.

“Overall, I think it was a solid performance, especially in those conditions with minimal sleep,” said U.S. Air Force Staff. Sgt. Joshua Hamblett, 822d BDS Non-commissioned Officer in Charge of Training. “We were there to test our abilities, to see what training needs to be adjusted and what we need to focus on for our future operations cycle.”

Within the non-stop exercise, 822d BDS members saw repeated adversarial coordinated attacks, indirect fire, simulated casualties, miles-long tactical movements under fire, sometimes weighed down with around 90 pounds of equipment, temperatures of 95 degrees, and humidity levels of 100% in Northern Fla. swampland.

“We recognize that we need to train to a more difficult standard to make sure we can meet the demands of any operation,” Clements said. “The conditions were difficult, particularly warm, but instead of breaking down, the troops pushed through as a team to deliver great effects.”

For many, this was their first exercise within the unit, and it pushed them further than any other training has in their career.

“The people that were to my left and right were ready to get after it,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Dakota Groh, 822d BDS heavy weapons team member. “You just embrace it, embrace it with the people next to you and get it done.”

The 822d BDS will continue to perform similar exercises to enhance readiness for their mission of providing robust, alert capable Air Base Defense and related security missions.